Saturday, March 1, 2014

Real Time with Bill Maher #309 “In the Dark”

By Catherine Giordano

Real Time with Bill Maher is, as always, a candle in the darkness enlightening us on issues and shining a light on Republican hypocrisy and lies.  

The February 28, 2014 show (#309) was no exception.

A lot of references to darkness this week.  In the monologue, Maher said that the favorite Tea Party game is “Pin the Blame on the Darkie.”  And in New Rules, he spoke about the new Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor  “Core Ice Cream”.  He said it was introduced to taunt Obama, “half dark chocolate, half white. and really dark at the core.  And to taunt Hillary Clinton, Ben and Jerry’s have ‘Hubby’s Chubby.’ “ [Except Bill Clinton is not really chubby anymore; Hillary is the one who needs to get on her husband’s diet.]

There was a great line in the monologue about Jan Brewer, governor of Arizona.  Bill said, it was a good thing that she vetoed the bill allowing businesses to discriminate against gays on the basis of their religious beliefs because she looks like “a lesbian warden in a prison movie.”   Low blow, Bill, but I’ll laugh at it because ever since she wagged her finger in Obama’s face, there is nothing she can do to redeem herself in my eyes.  I think she occasionally does the right thing, but for the wrong reasons.

The interview was with Christopher Leonard, author of The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover ofAmerica's Food Business.  He talked about the terrible conditions in the food industry.  A lot of us are in the dark about how our food is raised. Leonard said that the chicken factories, like Tyson, have so much power in rural areas it is like a “feudal system”  from the Dark Ages. The FDA has been almost entirely dismantled due to the influence of the powerful meat industry.  [Remember The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.  It led to reforms in the meat industry.  Can The Meat Racket do the same?]

Maher had a lot of criticism for the Tea Party, although he gave them credit for becoming a force in American politics in only five years.  In Overtime, he said, they had “baked themselves into the cake that is the Republican party.”  Although they are supposed to be about deficit reduction and lower taxes, Maher said there was virtually nothing about that on their website.  It was all about Benghazi and Obamacare.   Bill says they are all about hatred for a black president.

There were two conservative panelists this week.  One was Margaret Hoover [great grand-daughter of President Hoover—so we know where she gets her bad ideas from.]  She a commentator on Fox news and is the typical blond airhead Fox News likes to put on their news shows--all low cut dresses, short skirts, and girlish flirtatiousness.  [I noticed on Fox News the camera frequently pans down to newscaster-ettes legs whereas on other channels the female newscasters are treated with respect and the camera remains on their faces. ] Hoover is the author of a new book, American Individualism: How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party. I hope she had something worthwhile to say in the book. She had nothing worthwhile to say on Maher’s show.

Bill Kristol, the other conservative panelist, had a smug combative attitude on the show.  I liked the part where Maher confronted him as being totally wrong about the Iraq war, suggesting that this does not inspire confidence in his prognostations and opinions.  Kristol quickly admitted that he was wrong—a brief moment of honesty-- and then just as quickly returned to is in-your-face opinionating and lying. Just looking at him, I could see the darkness of his soul.

The third panelist was Austan Goolsbee.  He is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and the author of
MicroEconomics. He is no light-weight—he was formerly chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors.  He had some important things to say about the current cuts to the military supported by Obama and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.  He said that we need a different kind of military now that in prior eras—we need technology more than troops and armaments.  We should get rid of the tanks and aircraft the military doesn’t even want any more.  He said “They are cutting strategically, not willy-nilly.”  Hoover and Kristol, as would be expected, were in hysterics about how these cuts would be the end of America.

In the comedy segment, Maher mentioned that the obesity rate had dropped among only one are group in America—two-to-five year olds.  He gave us some toddler diet tips.  Most were really gross—the whole segment was the “let-me-get-the-audience-to-groan” moment of the week. I think there was only one non-gross diet tip: Cut carbs—dump the Spaghetti-Os over your head.

The special guest was Bruce Dern, the actor currently starring in Nebraska.  (The movie is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and Dern is nominated for Best Actor for his role in this movie.  Bill Maher likened Nebraska to King Lear, Don Quixote and Grapes of Wrath. Dern spoke of his admiration for the people of the Mid-West, honest, hard-working, with a strong sense of fairness.

The New Rules final segment blasted “the 1%” for whining about being persecuted.  He said that the 85 richest peo0le in the world have more money than half of the people on the planet—more money that 3.5 billion people.

He said, “Masters of the universe?  They are more like babies on a plane.”  Tom Perkins who is worth eight billion said he is being persecuted like the Jews were by the Nazis.  Bill explained that the Jews never did anything to deserve their persecution.  Tom mentioned billionaire Sam Zell who said, “We are the 1% because we work harder.”  Bill said, “Really, you sit in your cushy office and talk on the phone and you think you work harder than a coal miner? You make 1000 times more than a coal miner will make in his whole life on just one deal.”

Maher said, “Let’s give you something to cry about.  You don’t want a minimum wage, how about a maximum wage?”  Maher pointed out that a maximum wage is not a new idea.  Several of the founding fathers argued for it—James Madison, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton.  Maher added, “Your shady financial tricks tanked the economy and nothing happened to you.”  [They clearly were not even punished, much less, persecuted.]

Maher praised people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet who give their money away.  Maher said that Buffet has said, “I should write a book about how to get along on $500 million a year because apparently there are a lot of people who don’t know how to do it.”

Thank you, Bill, for the light you shed each week.  You expose darkness and let good ideas shine and you do it all with good grace and humor.  

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